Being self-employed isn’t for everyone, but it has been a great journey for Jason Pattison who started as a financial broker and continues to seek growth opportunities for his various businesses 20 years on.
We spoke with Jason about his experience in being self-employed, his new start-up RES+ (Renewable Energy Solutions+ and SolarSwap), and his plans for the future.
How did you decide to go self-employed?
Around 30 years ago, I was working for a money brokerage company in Australia. Unfortunately, I was made redundant and so I just decided to start my own company. I set myself up as a Limited Company in Australia, using my skills in financial projects to gain clients and come up with new ideas.
In 2001, I saw the opportunity to start a commodity markets brokerage firm ‘Nextgen’, which was listed on the ASX in 2007. Since then, I’ve been dipping my toe in various things; I like to experiment and play around with ideas, so there has been a couple of things that have worked and a couple that haven’t, but my most recent company is a solar energy business and P2P trading platform through Solar Swap.
What made you choose to go into solar power?
To be honest, I’ve always had an interest in renewable energy, but I got into the solar business in the UK by accident. I saw there was a lot of demand around solar, so I did my research and got to know the playing field a bit, and then I decided to seize the moment of opportunity and start RES+ (Renewable Energy Solutions+ & Solar Swap).
Our work is very interesting. We essentially consult with businesses and households to sell and install solar panel systems.
What’s your business model like?
At the moment, it’s me and one other business partner who is a minority shareholder. He’s very good with the technical aspect of things. We also have a couple of other people who work for us as contractors. Honestly, I just prefer to outsource everything as I think it’s the best model – and Clever Accounts is one of the things we outsource which really helps to take a weight off my shoulders.
Do you plan to keep RES+/Solar Swap small or are you aiming to grow in the future?
Short-term we are planning on expanding and taking on an admin person. I know there are certain benefits to having PAYE staff so we’re looking into this, but in general, I really do believe outsourcing is the best way to work. I have always been set up as a Limited Company and working this way is something that I find just works well for me.
Long-term though, I would like this business to grow. We have a very clear vision of how distributed energy will reshape the electricity landscape and we are implementing our strategy accordingly. With the electricity market evolving and turning to renewables, I definitely think there will be more opportunities available particularly in the P2P swapping of renewables segment of the market.
“For me, building your own small business is all about knowing the market well and keeping an eye out for growth opportunities.”
How have you dealt with the legal responsibilities of set-up in the UK?
Since being in the UK, I wanted to make sure that I was registering all the correct paperwork with HMRC and keeping to my compliance responsibilities. It’s very easy to fall foul of the tax office, but transparency and meeting all my requirements is my top priority in any of my businesses. So, when I set up RES and was searching for an accountant, I was drawn to Clever’s price, proposition, and the advice that they offer on regulatory and compliance issues. They have helped me speak to HMRC with regards to my VAT return which is something I was struggling with.
What about the financial side, have you had experience in this with your previous businesses?
With my previous company, I had hired someone in-house to look after my bookkeeping, so I had never really dealt with the financial side of running a business. For my personal consultancy company, I use a local accountant, but it was becoming difficult – a lot of filling out spreadsheets and the like, and I thought: there must be an easier way.
So when I was recommended to Clever and reviewed their online portal, I was very impressed. It has been mind-blowingly easy to use and has honestly made my life so much easier.
“Everyone I have spoken to at Clever Accounts has been personable and I have built up a good rapport with my personal accountant. I don’t have one bad word to say about them and recommend them highly.”
Any advice for those looking to enter into self-employment?
While self-employment isn’t for everyone, it can be great if you make it work for you.
One piece of advice would be to always work with people you trust and stay on top of your books. With previous businesses, I haven’t been the best at keeping on top of my records, but I’m being proactive with RES and having Clever Accounts’ online portal is keeping me on track and ensuring everything runs smoothly.
I trust them the same way I trust my accountant in Australia who I’ve been working with for 20 years.